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Iowa City district teachers may get a raise in commitments and pay

BY GRACE PATERAS | OCTOBER 15, 2014 5:00 AM

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The Iowa City School Board unanimously endorsed a grant that will allow teachers to work more closely with students while being compensated.

The Teacher Leadership and Compensation Grant Application was discussed by the board Tuesday, and if passed, the grant will allow paid positions for teachers to focus on leadership roles in the schools.

“Ultimately, the goal is that we’ll have increased the quality in our teaching and learning,” board member Patti Fields said. “It’s about collaborative learning and improved instruction that’ll help students in the classroom. At the same time, it’s a funding mechanism in the investment of our teaching staff.”

The district’s Steering Committee modeled the grant application after the state format requirements. The district is waiting until January, when approval or disapproval from the state will be announced.

Currently in the schools, there is a “loosely organized program” throughout the district, said Matt Degner, the principal of Southeast Junior High.

Teacher leadership positions are unpaid, and they hope to have a program that compensates all positions.

“We already have instructional coaches in our schools that help as teachers, mentors, and leaders,” Fields said. “[The grant will] expand the program with the flexibility to really emphasize the skills of individual teachers that we have.”

Positions for teachers will range from introductory to advanced educational levels, as well as elementary and secondary leadership opportunities.

Teachers have the option of committing to positions that vary in time and wage obligations that will allow them to stay in the classroom setting.

If approved, the grant requires 25 percent of all teachers to be in a leading role.

Interested faculty members must go through the application process, even if they currently hold that position.

The positions are an annual commitment, a rule required by the grant. Additionally, staff and system will be evaluated yearly.

Pay for these positions will vary, depending on the additional work in the classroom required. Compensation is set through the grant application.

“[The] funding is based on per pupil allocation,” said Ben Mosher, a co-president of the district’s Education Association. “An estimated $4 million will be given to [the district].”

The Cedar Rapids School District was among one of the first districts to be approved for this funding last year. The grant is funded through the 2014-15 school year.

Officials in Iowa City are preparing for the district funding prior to approval.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll get the grant,” said Chase Ramey, district chief human-resources officer. “A great deal of work will need to be done as we move to implementation. The goal is to have the program functioning prior to the beginning of next school.”


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